Recently, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) reported encouraging news and developments in the recycling market. SWANA is the largest member-based solid waste association in the world with more than 10,000 public and private sector professionals. In November 2021, SWANA reported that over the last three years, the recycling market has worked to rebound and is currently seeing record highs in the United States as well as Canada. An example of this rise can be seen in the chart below, which demonstrates a 160% increase in two years for the average price of recyclables from material recovery facilities (MRFs) in the New England region of the U.S.
The United States recycling market significantly reduced in 2018 after China implemented its National Sword policy, which banned the import of several recyclable materials. Eventually, this progressed to nearly all scrap and recyclables. Before this policy, China was one of the largest importers of recycled materials in the world. With the sudden decrease in demand, the price for these materials decreased drastically.
Why have the prices of recyclables increased?
SWANA’s report stated four reasons why the prices have gone up.
What does this mean for municipal recycling programs?
Municipal recycling programs play an integral role in supplying manufacturers with secondary materials. The current trends are a result of these programs adapting and persevering despite China’s SWORD policy and the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the recycling markets are currently at a high, the market generally fluctuates year to year. For these programs to achieve sustainability, additional fees and charges may be seen by customers in the upcoming years to maintain recycling programs during the market lows. In the end, a variety of funding will be essential to keep this public service viable, sustainable, and an important part of protecting and enhancing the environment of the communities we work, play and live in.
SWANA’s report can be found at https://swana.org/docs/default-source/resources-documents/arf-documents/recycling-markets-have-strongly-recovered-final.pdf
If you have any questions on solid waste, municipal programs, carting, or the rebound of the recycling market, please contact Walden by calling 516-701-1681.